‘Trainwreck’ quickly reveals the small screen isn’t big enough to showcase the enormous talent that is Amy Schumer. Schumer is a blast and is tremendously funny, but ‘Trainwreck’ feels like just another entry in the ‘girls just wanna have fun’ romantic comedy sub-genre.
After her parents split at an early age, Amy (Schumer) learned the tough lesson from her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy is a terrible idea.
Now a 30-something working at a New York-based magazine for a homicide-provoking horrible boss (Tilda Swinton), Amy indulges in random no-strings attached hookups. Amy has a regular boyfriend (WWE superstar John Cena in a decidedly un-PG role), but he doesn’t get in the way of Amy exploring every remotely decent option.
It’s OK to want more in the rare female-led comedy than to base it around the premise that some women enjoy casual sex and are just as big commitment-phobes as men, right? The film shouldn’t be judged on a curve simply because the roles are reversed, but ‘Trainwreck’ would be even less engaging with a male lead.
On the heels of the tremendously entertaining ‘Obvious Child,’ which challenged conventions about the modern female, ‘Trainwreck’ doesn’t feel nearly as groundbreaking and revolutionary. That sense of familiarity isn’t helped by Director Judd Apatow who seems to be working overtime trying to force his typical formula of a stunted adult forced to re-evaluate their lives to appreciate their family/fall in love onto a project that would benefit from a greater sense of unpredictability.
Amy’s mindset is challenged when she’s assigned to profile Aaron (Bill Hader, ‘The Skeleton Twins’), a sports doctor with a very famous clientele — seemingly an excuse to work in cameos by Tony Romo, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Evert and Marv Albert. That one-note joke quickly grows tiresome long before it’s wrapped.
The most surprising revelation was NBA superstar LeBron James, who shines in a supporting role. James plays himself but with some fun wrinkles like being a penny-pincher despite his mega-million dollar NBA salary and being overly sensitive about Aaron’s relationship.
Aaron isn’t Amy’s typical loser fling and she is immensely uncomfortable with the idea of actually falling in love. Schumer has an easy chemistry with Hader, who makes a charming love interest. Brie Larson (‘21 Jump Street’) plays Amy’s happily married sister, Kim, who is a warning of everything that terrifies Amy about commitment.
Schumer, who also wrote the script, is perhaps a bit too generous in sharing the spotlight with her co-stars. The supporting cast would be more effective had Schumer limited the outlandish behavior to a few characters instead of making most of them over the top caricatures.
Schumer also could have stood to make Amy more likeable. Sure, the shock value of Amy’s bluntness and cavalier attitude toward relationships is good for laughs, but it does little to make her someone you want to root for to have a happy ending. It’s to Schumer’s credit that her natural charisma and likeability overcomes enough of her character’s flaws to keep you invested.
Apatow has never met a movie he couldn’t super-size so ‘Trainwreck’ is about 20 to 30 minutes too long. There just aren’t many great romantic comedies that clock in over two hours yet somehow Amy’s redemptive arc in the final act still manages to feel rushed and inconsistent with the rest of the film’s tone.
To anyone unfamiliar with her work, ‘Trainwreck’ is a tremendous introduction to Schumer, a star firmly intent on letting newcomers know she has arrived. ‘Trainwreck’ won’t be the signature film we’ll look back on as her crowning achievement, but Schumer is ready to emerge as major force in comedy — gender be damned.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Photo credit: Universal Pictures